Thomas Tantrum - Central Station, Wrexham
The new album is just out and getting well deserved rave reviews up and down the land. Thomas Tantrum are in the midst of touring it, treading the boards, zig-zagging up and down the land for the last couple of weeks. Tonight's gig was supposed to be in Chester, hardly a hot bed of live indie-ness, and at an untried new venue. There were some last minute shenanigans, the trials and tribulations of life on the road in what some people still refer to as the provinces. In the end, for tonight, the good people at Wrexham's venerable Central Station stepped in to save the day. It all happened too late though, and with insufficient notice, this shit hot band at the top of their game hardly got the audience numbers they deserved. I've seen worse turnouts and I suppose it might be considered a test of mettle, of paying your dues.
There was a revelation of a support set by August September, locals from down the road in Chester with a good fistful of festival dates on the horizon. Nice indie stuff enlivened with a sense of occasion with an antique reel-to-reel tape that catalysed the spirit of their fuzzed harmonies.
With the bar set high then, Thomas Tantrum didn't disappoint. Their charm is that they can come across as slightly shambolic, barely seem to be holding the raggedy edges together. They said as much themselves on stage, and yet it ends up somehow convincingly cohesive. At the start of the set it felt pretty psychobilly, in spirit if not necessarily in content. Third song in 'Sleep' is their most recent single, by which time it's fairly evocative of screaming sixties girl group so far as Megan Thomas' vocals are concerned. She added to the energy by several times stepping down off the low stage to bring her singing into the audience.
Somewhere in the middle, there was a brief pause while drummer Dave Wade Brown sorted out the gubbins on a hi-hat. Megan tried a bit of ad-libbing but was assailed, in a very friendly way, by the drunkest man in Wrexham that night who pushed up to that low-rise stage, giving her the usual line about how they were effing brilliant, he effing loved her. He announced he was off to fetch his mates, glued his phone to his ear and wandered off to the back of the hall, never to be seen again. This sort of moment is one of the absolute joys of 'local' gigs.
By the last couple of songs, things had either calmed down on stage, or my head was resolving sound better. It was all still fairly rumbustious and unruly, and yet at the same time there was some deep and engaging wistfulness coming through. It has to be taken for what it is, fairly uncomplicated rough edged pop music, but is done convincingly and with quality.
Set-list: She's Not With Us / Work It / Sleep / Swan Lake / Cold Gold / Hot Summer / Shake It / Satie / Face The Music / Last Kiss / Warm Horse / All In Your head